Monday, November 11, 2013

Closing our discussion

Last week I opened a discussion with a question -- "should our church be doing this?"

I hoped that it would be an attention-getter, and that we would have some comments and discussion about churches and fundraisers . . . do the two go together, or not?

We can all identify with the fact that church budgets are just like our family budgets -- they're shrinking! It is getting more and more difficult to make ends meet. There is a temptation to organize a bake sale, to have a rocking chair rock-a-thon, to get the kids involved in a car wash, and other ideas that get tossed around when money is needed for a ministry or an activity.

I've seen this, and I've been involved in it, in the past. Here are some of my thoughts, for what they're worth.
I don't necessarily have any scripture verses to share with you in closing. But here goes . . .
A lot of work goes into making fundraisers work. Of course, you first need to choose just how you will raise the money. Are you going to sell candy bars, cheeses, calendars or candles? Are you going to pick some Saturdays and have the youth wash cars for donations? What. Will. You. Do.
Sometimes there is enough acrimony at this stage to scuttle the project. But for those that clear this hurdle, there are more!
You're going to have to learn to handle competition -- each of your ministries or activities is going to want to have their own fundraiser. That can get a little difficult. You also may have to deal with your members, who are now "sales people," who are kibbitzing about who has sold the most, and conversely, who has sold the least!
It also can be tricky if Johnny helped with the fundraiser, but now he can't go on the mission trip/choir tour/ski trip and his parent can't understand why you won't give him back the money that he raised!
You may have to answer questions, too, about excess inventory, or why you didn't raise enough to actually participate in the promised activity.

But here is my point I'd like to dwell on: Fundraisers make us shift our focus from our ministry to money.  We probably already spend a great deal of time thinking about how best to use the small resources we may have in our church, right? Having to spend time gathering those resources really cuts in on time we could spend on reaching people . . .
People start looking more like financial opportunities to us, rather than opportunities to share our faith and add folks to the kingdom. The most important thing is to give them the message of salvation, no?
I think I would rather be part of a shoestring ministry, and be talking to people about Jesus. I'd rather be telling them about how He has changed my life, and answered prayers, than telling them about the latest fundraiser our church is participating in. I truly believe that "little is much, when God is in it" and that His people, young and old, can support His work with their tithes and special offerings.

That's my humble opinion, for what it's worth!


Belinda said...

Very good points made here Snoodles. Gives us something to really think about.
If we feel that fundraising in our church is not what we should be doing, I'm not sure we could actually do anything about it in our own church family. If it's something that has been done since the beginning of the church's organization, I doubt it will change. If we feel strongly enough about it, we could always change churches.
I have to say I am relieved my church doesn't do outside church fundraising. For all of the reasons you mentioned and more.

I'm not sure that doing that doesn't say as a church that we don't believe our God is big enough to accomplish His purpose without our fundraising. He may use us to bring in what we have, as in the widow's mite, but He can do whatever He wants with or without our input. IMHO

Great topic and one to really get us praying!!

Katie Isabella said...

I agree with the first commenter. It IS a good topic and one I hadn't thought of yet. Well, yes I have. Quite a few instances came thru my mind. One was during the so-called Christmas Parade in town, though NOT a fund raiser, the church pastor saw fit and still does, to toss candy to the crowd. To me, it was "How embarrassing!".

Carrie P. said...

When you first put this question out to us I had never really thought of it before. Every church I have ever been a member of has done this for various reasons.
I tried to think of any scriptures that would relate and the only one that came to my mind was of Jesus and the moneychangers. Most money raising activities were not held in the actual church building so I don't know how God would view.

The need of money is a big thing. If a group wants to go on a missions trip and doesn't have enough money where does it come from? Does the group hold on to what Belinda said about trusting in God to provide? How many times do we try to help God out with a situation?

It can be a quandary as you put forth when things don't go exactly as planned.

I appreciate you putting that out there for us to think about.

Austin Towers said...

Speaking as a Brit and with regard to the church and fundraising, I think that there is a difference in culture between the US and UK. It is not something I have thought about except in the context of the prosperity teaching of some in the main American evangelists (though not exclusively so!). Somebody else has mentioned that fundraising might be ok in certain circumstances - mission etc -

Sometimes churches here hold small scale fundraisers like jumble sales and raffles to raise money to mend the church roof or something. Others try to raise money for famine relief or when there is a disaster, like at present in the Philippines. Jesus' only allusion to money I think was the render unto Caesar speech which was to do with giving tribute. And then of course overturning the moneychangers tables in the temple showed his anger at the place being used for usury.

I personally don't think that churches should be fundraising. They are there to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ and that can be done without needing to raise lots of money! Individuals can share the Gospel. Individuals can raise money or donate money to good causes, but I don't feel that scripture indicates that "the church" should be diverted into doing that!

Just my opinion, very badly put, but I hope you get the gist! Caro xx